Once again, the closing of another Sacramento-area dining house demonstrates the tumultuous nature of the restaurant business.
This time, the victim is Maranello Bar and Kitchen in Fair Oaks, which opened New Year’s Eve 2010 and has been sold to the owners of Dad’s Kitchen in Land Park, who could not be reached for comment this morning.
“Their focus is reopening it within 30 days, with a new concept ” said Joe Hensler, who co-owned Maranello with his wife, Gayle. “Dad’s Kitchen is more casual, and that concept may work better in this location.”
Last summer, the Henslers remodeled Maranello, replacing much of the main dining room with a second bar and putting more emphasis on patio dining and filling the restaurant’s two smaller dining rooms. The menu was revamped with a gastropub concept, with emphasis on bites (skewered pork belly and watermelon), small plates (steamed mussels, grilled corn lollipops), salads and pizzas. Entrees went from a couple dozen to seven. Also, Sunday breakfast was reinstated.
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At the time, executive chef Gabiel Glasier said, “At the end of the meal, we want people to say, 'Wow, what just happened? That was fun and different.’”
“We went through the remodel and spent some more money, had a great grand reopening and got re-energized, but we settled right back down to not very many people coming on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays,” said Joe Hensler. “It wasn’t enough to keep the doors open. It’s sad, but this is not unique in the restaurant business.
“I think we were doing our best work, and chef Glasier was putting out the best food he has ever put out,” Joe Hensler continued. “We had a very stable staff and things were going well. But we just plain didn’t have enough volume, and (staying open) didn’t make economic sense.
“Gayle was very emotional yesterday, but called every employee (to tell them the news),” he said. “Now the plan is to call the regular customers and tell them. (Selling) was the right decision and Gayle supports it, but with significant mixed feelings,”
“Its very tough, but it’s one of those things,” Gayle Hensler said. “We tried so many different things to make it work, and we hope the community feels that we did a good job. We went out with a bang, though, with our dinner on Sunday (as part of Farm to Fork Week). The guests told us it was they best meal they’d ever had.”
“Families have lost fortunes trying to make restaurants go,” Joe Hensler said. “The expectation of the consumer these days is great value and low prices. The chain operators who are willing to microwave their food have a significant cost advantage, and you can’t complete with them, dollar for dollar.”
Glasier has long been one of the stars of the local culinary scene, an innovative chef who helped pioneer the early seasonal-local-sustainable dining concept, along with the likes of chefs Patrick Mulvaney, Rick Mahan and Randall Selland. Glasier opened his own restaurant in 2006, the popular Redbud Cafe in Cameron Park, and later served as executive chef at the fine-dining restaurant Slocom House in Fair Oaks, which has since closed.
“We had such a loyal client base and I knew them by name, but I’m thrilled that (the Henslers) were able to get the place sold so quickly and walk away,” Glasier said. As for his own next step, “I knew at some point I would be stepping away and getting back into ownership. I’ve got a business plan and I’m lining up investors for a concept I’ve been developing, one that would give a different twist to (the Sacramento dining scene). Until I can get those pieces together, I’ll do some catering and high-end dinners. I’ve always been a dreamer and always wanted something bigger. I never look down, I’m always looking up. I’m ready for the next challenge.”
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter